Tuesday, March 02, 2010
  Nice but nubbly!
I love reading stories aloud, and our kids are a bit beyond that now (just a bit, all being thoroughly adult), so I enjoy Librivox as a hobby. As well as the William book Barbara and I are (slowly) reading together: More William by Richmal Crompton I have started a version of the Just So Stories. LV already has more than one, but since I had made my readings of the book available online before LV started I felt it was not unfair to do a LV version now.

If you'd like to see what it sounds like the first story: How the Whale Got His Throat is available in draft form (please report any problems or errors).

Appeal for help: there is a thirteenth Just So Story, added to the US edition in 1903 (which was absent from the 1902 UK edition, and most subsequent editions) called "The Tabu Tale" if anyone can source a copy (published before 1926) that I can use I coulld read all thirteen. (There is also a fourteenth but it is in copyright and does not have the wordplays that make the "real" ones fun.

PS: The heading is a quote, it is how the 'Stute fish describes humans, I think the fish was spot on, we are (usuallly) nice, but (often) nubbly!

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Friday, October 10, 2008
  Cyber Psalms and the vocal Psalterium
David has finished 50 of his cyber psalms, and since his new job allows so little scope for imagination and fun, he has decided to produce a "Psalterium Cyberium:" which will "Illuminate the cyber-psalter".

He's invited the arty to produce art to create "an illustrated manuscript for the 21st century." He is also inviting us to read a cyber psalm for an audio version - and if I can persuade him potentially multi-media version(s). I'm also trying to persuade him to put the text into the public domain, so we could run the audio project on Librivox ;) He plans to put the whole thing online and also sell print copies...

If you are thinking of recording an audio psalm for Psalterium Cyberium please do spare some thought to the equipment you'll use, it can make a huge difference. To illustrate here are two versions of Cyber Psalm 11 recorded on:
To illustrate the importance of the sound card, here is one done on my old laptop (that had a good sound card built in) using the same headset mic:

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Sunday, September 07, 2008
  Free audio books
Librivox is a great project, it uses volunteers to read, edit, prooflisten and make available copyright-free audio books.

I've done several chapters in collaborative projects, and also several "solo" readings. My most popular (so far) have been:
Compare that with just 750 downloads from of my recording of the much better-known Just So Stories and you get a picture of the benefits of collaboration on a project like this!

I am just finishing Three Men and a Maid by PG Wodehouse and was really encouraged by the feedback on these recordings from Gustav evacuees (see Gustav, Librivox and Life).

In its way PodBible is another collaborative (over 300 volunteer readers and dozens of ongoing volunteer workers) reading the Bible first live over a long weekend, now podcasting the Bible a chapter a day or the whole Bible in a year, and soon to make individual books available in one hour chunks as an audio Bible you could download and put on CD or cassette for those with poor eyesight. The translation we used the CEV is designed for easy listening and is suitable for ESL listeners.

There is also a PodBible Facebook page where a different group of listeners can get a daily "fix" of the Bible.

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Friday, September 05, 2008
  Gustav, Librivox and Life
There are times, most of the time I guess, when we take for granted the multiple ways in which the Internet changes things. Then something like Gustav happens. As a spare time hobby I read (mainly English humour) out-of-copyright books for Librivox these projects get checked, for glitches, errors and/or indescipherability by proof listeners. Often Librivox as a totally web-based project involves working with people who are merely usernames - marscalling, lil'robert and the like. But occasionally through the private message service you learn a bit more anout someone and they start to become "real people".

I've been reading early PG Wodehouse comedies recently, A Man of Means by P. G. Wodehouse and C. H. Bovill was finished back in May,and since then Three Men and a Maid by Wodehouse alone. I have been praying for one of the proof listeners, so when Gustav threatened their area that became a cause for concern.

Here's what they wrote after the storm was past:
You are so correct about the separation being a very difficult part of this evacuation process. At work, I find that we have a great deal to pray about with our customers searching for family members and pets, who have been separated from each other. At one point, our interstate 59 coming from New Orleans was so backed up that a trip which normally takes 4-6 hours, took one customer 14 hours, with gas stations along the way out of gas, several people including this customer found themselves walking the evacuation route for the last 20 or more miles. Nothing on the news about this though, so all I know is to keep praying for all those who are far from home.

Something which might cheer you: I took mp3 copies of your Wodehouse project with me to work, during the rain squals (they usuallky lasted about 20 mins) I played tracks from them for the travelers standing around. Many loved the book and asked about it, one woman in particular stayed while I cooked a pizza for her family and listened to 2 tracks. It turned out she had heard of LibriVox and planned to download Three Men and a Maid when she gets back into her New Orleans area home. I can't seem to say this very well, but I'm trying to say that for at least 2 carrivans of people, your reading gave resspite, comfort and the first real laughter I'd heard all day as our friend Smith the bulldog stole the show that fateful night that auntie returned.
So, more to pray about, but some thanfulness and joy mixed with the "pleases", isn't the Internet wonderful. How else could an Old Testament teacher in New Zealand be able to brush against the lives of people far away at a time of crisis? BTW Smith the Bulldog is indeed quite a show-stealing act ;)

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Tuesday, February 05, 2008
  Transit, and travel diaries
Singapore airport was already my favourite, and the only airport where I am happy to spend a few hours! It has confirmed this impression this time. As well as writing blog posts I've got up to date again with my email, including a note to say that Kipling's American Notes has now gone live on Librivox. I wonder of Barak Obama's progress in the US pre-elections would make Kipling rethink his best-known quote from the book? "It is not good to be a negro in the land of the free and the home of the brave." I also wonder what today's Americans make of his take on their ancestors - do let me know, whether you read a print edition, read the Guttenberg edition, or listen to my Librivox edition.

PS, the weather is as dull as it looks here, so we did not much miss the chance to see a bit more of the city this time (which was ruled out since we arrived in the middle of the night).

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Friday, January 18, 2008
  American Notes
My latest project for Librivox is Rudyard Kipling's American Notes. (Perhaps I'll do the more famous Dickens American Notes next?) The essays are controversial, they were when they were first published, and given the debate over Kipling's (alleged?) racism they are not less so today. Here is what I have written as introduction, I would be glad of any comments. The Gutenberg e-text of American Notes is here, and the chapters read aloud:
I'd love to know what today's Americans make of Kipling's America, and I'd also be glad of any suggestions on how to improve or correct this introduction:

This book is controversial, it records Kipling's cutting observations of American life in the 1990s, and it reports with apparent relish the most racist of opinions as if they were facts.

Yet Kipling's essays about American life in the 1890s are written with an interesting British/Indian distance from his subject. Though the tone is often sarcastic, his affection for the country and its people is a steady undercurrent. These essays provide an interesting glimpse of the USA at the time, and regularly reveal Kipling's love of words. They also contain (when circumstances warranted the comment - see the toffee-nosed Englishman described in chapter 4) disparaging remarks about his compatriots.

As well as the rude things he says about the USA, Kipling's readers are often shocked by things he says about races and peoples other than his own. Everyone must interpret this for themselves (perhaps remembering that like us he may reflect the presuppositions and prejudices of his time and place). One may hear an interesting "distance" between Kipling and the "facts" he reports. So, after recounting crude racial prejudices, with apparent agreement, he concludes "It is not good to be a negro in the land of the free and the home of the brave." Which opinion is Kipling's? The one, the other, or somehow both at once?

Indeed Kipling's writing, often, and above all here, raises questions of interpretation. One American reader (G. A. England from Harvard University) from Kipling's own time commented: "He sees things done by machinery, in large ways, and wonders at every-day occurrences that any child among us would regard as matters of course." He detected no double edge to Kipling's words, no implied comparison with the more backward "home country" then the seat of Imperial power.

He comments scathingly on Kipling's passage (in ch.1) describing the benefits of the San Fransisco cable-car system: "With the same scorn he wastes nearly a page in fantastic description of a cable-car as an amazing phenomenon. It is as though Alaric at Rome had marvelled before the temple of Jupiter Capitolinus with the scoff 'provincial' on his bearded lips. Thus does the newly-landed Anglo-American descant upon our barbaric devil-carriage." Can Kipling, a Nobel Prize winner really be as naïve as his critic assumes?

Indeed, can the critic be as naive as I have assumed above? Mr England of Harvard began his piece demolishing Kipling claiming: To the American temperament, the gentleman who throws stones while himself living in a glass house cannot fail to be amusing; the more so if, as in Mr Kipling's case, he appears to be in a state of maiden innocence regarding the structure of his own domicile. Was England perhaps playing Kipling at his own game and pretending to take seriously, what really he was smiling fondly at?

In the end, this is not Kipling's best work, yet these articles, first published in an Indian Newspaper, still carry vivid impressions both of the USA in the nineteenth century and, at the least indirectly, offers interesting criticism of both the New World and the Old.

Quotations from The New York Times of October 11th 1902.

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Thursday, January 17, 2008
  In which my head swells to inordinate size, and then bursts!
Cori (from Librivox and To Posterity - and Beyond!) just pointed out to me that my reading of Kipling's Stalky & Co had been reviewed at the Internet Archive. The Reviewer: Vladadog - whom I don't think I know at all, rated it 5 out of 5 stars and wrote:
Subject: A really excellent series of stories!

This was my first LibriVox download and what a wonderful introduction it was! Tim Bulkeley did an excellent job reading the entire book. His reading was as good as many professional audiobooks I've bought and the sound quality was also well done. I grew up loving Stalky & Co (they were the original "Marauders" before JK Rowling invented James Potter & Co for her series and Stalky still wins hands down, without any magic at all!). If you haven't read the stories then this download is a great introduction. And if you have read the stories this is an excellent way to enjoy them again.
Stalky has now had 5,673 downloads since 30 April 2007, so I'm delighted, and hope other listeners are too!

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Friday, June 08, 2007
  A Few Maxims For The Instruction Of The Over-Educated
When recording (for Librivox) a review article of Oscar Wilde's, I found myself both delighting in his cleverness, and detesting his brutality. So I also recorded his "A Few Maxims For The Instruction Of The Over-Educated" as an antidote to his cruel, devastating, if funny, wit in the review. The "maxims" recording has now been "published" as part of a Short Story collection (whose editor was generous and willing to include such a non-story orphan). Listening to it again I suspect I may post, over the next few days, about how a few of them relate to the interests of this blog...

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